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FKHS boys’, girls’ track teams ranked No. 1, No. 3 in region

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By CATRINA FRANCIS

Last year when head coach James Bleecker took over the track and field program at Fort Knox High School the goal was improving after each meet. The team not only improved but many exceeded his goal by competing in last year’s state meet.

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After last year’s success and year-round training, Bleecker had high expectations for the boys’ and girls’ track and field teams. And the teams haven’t let him down. The boys’ team is currently ranked No. 1 in the Class A region and the girls’ are ranked No. 3. Class A region is for schools that have about 600 students, and Bleecker said FKHS has about 340 students.

Although the girls are ranked No. 3 in the region, Bleecker said he believes their ranking could be higher.

“I think this is a No. 1 team,” he said. “I made some changes to the girls’ team and I would like the girls to be ranked No. 1.”

For the last two years the girls’ nemesis has been Murray High School in Murray, Kentucky, a team that’s finished first in the state for the last two years. Bleecker said FKHS competed in a meet with MHS in attendance and FKHS placed second. He believes the team has enough talent to beat them.

He pointed out that last year the girls’ had the more dominant team but that has changed this year with the boys’ team being higher ranked than the girls.

“If the state championship were to be tomorrow (the boys) would be state champs,” Bleecker said about the boys’ track and field team. “They are so deep this year. This is a do or die season (because) I have seniors and (some are going to have a permanent change of station).”

Although the teams are reversed this year from last year, Bleecker said the girls’ team is still much better than he originally thought they would be. He added that they are getting better after each meet. He’s even made a few changes to make sure the girls remain competitive and improve their ranking in the region. But he’s reluctant to tinker with the boys’ roster.

“I’m afraid to rock the boat this late in the season,” he said about making changes to the boys’ roster.

When the boys’ team takes the track Bleecker said they are normally finishing first or second in the relay events.

As both teams prepare for the regional meet this weekend, Bleecker said he believes the boys’ team will advance to compete at the state meet.

When the teams compete Saturday at the regional meet the top two finishers receive an automatic bid for state. After the automatic bids the 10 best times in each running event are headed to state.

Even though the competition is tough in the region, Bleecker said he believes a lot of the boys will receive an automatic bid to state.

One of the additions to this year’s team has been the unified events which are for special needs students who are low functioning. There are four events for them to compete in.

Bleecker pointed out that Alhec Santiago is probably one of the most crucial athletes on the boys’ team because he is part of every single relay.

“He is probably the most important on the team,” he said. “He starts all my relays and he’s being overlooked.”

He added that Maleeq Waters broke the shot put record and the teams have broken 23 school records this season.

“I had some amazing athletes last year, but this year they are great,” Bleecker said.